Dilworth for Sale!

A land auction kicked off the development of Dilworth in 1891


Word of the spectacular land sale had spread across five states and the big day was finally here. On May 20, 1891, the Four C's Corporation began selling lots in the new streetcar suburb of Dilworth.

The street grid was in place and the power turned on for the electric streetcars that would travel down the center of South Boulevard, then turn onto East Boulevard to the new suburb. Latta Park, a lavish amusement park, had opened several months earlier, attracting thousands of visitors to the suburban playground. To add to the opening-day excitement, developer Edward Dilworth Latta arranged a championship semipro baseball game at the park between Winston, North Carolina (this was before the burg merged with Salem) and Columbia, South Carolina.

The land sale had been advertised throughout the region and hotels were filled to capacity with visitors from the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Charlotte News reported that 4,600 people rode the streetcars to Dilworth for the opening-day sale. Most were attracted to the free lunch and elaborate fireworks display.

The land sale began at 10:30 on the morning of May 20. Auctioneers P. B. and E. A. Akers from Knoxville, Tennessee rode in a hack from lot to lot while boys rushed ahead to mark the lot lines with red flags.

Prices on opening day ranged from $350 to $500 per lot. Terms were 25 percent down and up to three years to pay. Discounts were given to those who built on their lots immediately.

Seventy-eight lots were sold in Dilworth during May of 1891 and seventeen more before the end of the year. Sales then slowed, with only one lot sold in the first nine months of 1892.

Then came two events that shaped the future of Dilworth forever. In 1892, Atherton Mill was built at the edge of Dilworth and several blocks of the suburb were developed as a mill village. Next, the developers made thirty-five houses available on the “building-and-loan plan,” opening the neighborhood to middle-class families.

And so Dilworth became a mixture of fine homes for the well-to-do, more modest dwellings for the middle class, and cottages for the mill workers.

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